IL: Driver Convicted Of Speeding Without Receiving Ticket

The Beacon News in Illinois has another story of ticket camera bureaucracy causing problems for motorists. Here’s an excerpt:

Unsure why the Kane County Circuit Clerk would send him anything in the mail, Ernie Bolen assumed he’d been summoned for jury duty.

Needless to say, a letter stating he owed $375 for speeding in an Interstate 88 construction zone came as a surprise to 43-year-old Bolen, who says he never saw a ticket or anything notifying him of a court appearance.

“I haven’t seen it,” the Montgomery man said of a citation. “I was like, what the heck is this.”

Court records show the ticket was generated by a tollway construction zone speed camera on May 5. A June 19 court date was scheduled. Bolen, who says he never received any notice of a court date, received a judgement against him and the fines were assessed.

Essentially, Bolen was convicted of speeding without ever having any idea that he had even received a ticket. As is always the case when a city’s camera system makes a mistake, it was described as an “isolated incident.”

Bolen’s situation stems from what officials described as a glitch with an Illinois State Police vendor responsible for generating tickets through speed vans positioned on I-88 and other construction zones around the Chicago area. State Police District 15 Sgt. Jim Jenkner described Bolen’s situation as “isolated,” although he couldn’t say how many tickets could have been issued or how many motorists could have been affected in Kane County.

As the article continues, it becomes clear that this wasn’t an isolated incident at all:

Circuit Clerk Deborah Seyller said problems similar to Bolen’s occurred with tickets issued for hearings on May 15 and June 19, although she couldn’t specify how many cases were impacted.

“They do try to limit how many they file,” Seyller said, estimating the state police do about 100 tickets per court date. “We started getting them before we knew they were coming.”

Under the system the city has set up, this kind of mistake is apparently pretty common:

With the speed cameras, [Circuit Clerk Seyller] said, the ticket doesn’t go to court until after the driver is notified. That comes via a “packet” sent certified mail to the driver and a similar one that goes to the clerk, and with enough time to assure everyone has notice of the court date.

“Every violator gets a packet,” Jenkner said. But Bolen says he received nothing until the missed-court notice arrived. At that point, he called the clerk’s office, was told he had been cited for driving 63 in a 45 mph zone and that it was common for the citations to not make it to the driver.

This all leads to the obvious question, which is how many people have been convicted without their knowledge because of this “glitch” in the ticket camera system?

It’s also important to note that these kind of mistakes are not cheap:

Seyller was surprised to hear Bolen received only the minimum fine, especially without appearing before a judge. She said some drivers have walked away owing more than $600 for a conviction.

But don’t worry everybody, the cameras are for safety, not revenue.

[courtesy The National Motorists Association]

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  • CarPerson CarPerson on Oct 02, 2009
    A whole lot more can happen to you for not receiving a letter a government agency claims to have sent you. Manuel Navarro opened his pay envelope and found zip. Every dime garnished. He was just one of approximately 120,000 men who had his name falsely entered onto a benefit form at the insistence of the Los Angeles Prosecutor so the mother could collect state money and the state had someone to go after. Manuel knew nothing of this woman or child. L.A. Prosecutor said, “To bad, we notified you by mail and your time to appeal is up. You have absolutely no recourse other than pay or go to prison.” The Court upheld the $350,000 child support amount (payable over 21 years) as it had in previous cases. After hundreds of losses in court to overturn this travesty, “Los Angles v. Navarro” finally was won in favor of the “phone book dad” and at last count over 800 default paternity convictions have been overturned. Unable to pay the child support or $5,000 to get it overturned, today several thousand sit in California Prisons. By the way, many courts do not allow DNA evidence as proof of paternity fraud. The “notification by mail” seemed suspect as the amount of postage purchases fell far short to cover the number of notifications that supposedly were mailed… (Oops!) The State of California later made the L.A. Prosecutor the head of the California Ethics committee.
  • AC AC on Oct 02, 2009

    That the state of Illinois is not notifying people who were issues automated tickets comes as no surprise to me, they can't even mark the start and the end of construction zones properly. I can't count the number of times where I have continued to travel for miles at the work zone speed, only to find out that there was absolutely nothing marking the end of the work zone. I've seen uncovered 65 MPH signs, next to work zone, and photo enforcement signs, all while their ticket generating van is in operation. Because confusion reigns, most drivers don't bother with the work zone speed, and I don't blame them. Driving the posted work zone speed of 45, while the average traffic speed is 20-30 miles per hour above that, poses a hazard to me, but they don't seem to care. Either the automated ticket program is ran maliciously, or it just so happens that their negligence maximizes revenue.

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